MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has given attention to the composition of the Boards who conduct the examination in seamanship on passing for the rank of Lientenant, which Boards, being composed of Captains who happen to be available on the spot, are of varying composition in regard to the ability and temperament of their members and the standard of efficiency adopted by them; whether he is aware that the examinations conducted by these Boards vary greatly in the time given by them; that they vary still more greatly in the number and severity of the questions which the candidates are required to answer: that they vary infinitely in their standards of proficiency; and that the results of these examinations are consequently unequal as between one set of candidates and another; whether, in view of the fact that upon the results of these examinations all an officer's future largely depends, he will consider whether some alteration in the system can be adopted whereby the element of chance which enters into these examinations may be eliminated from them; and whether he sees any objection to adopting a system 501 whereby the examination in seamanship should be conducted for each batch of candidates by a single Board, having fixed methods of examination and a single standard of proficiency, as is now the case with the subsequent examinations in navigation, pilotage, gunnery, and torpedo?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I must ask my hon. Friend to allow me to give a general answer to his various questions. I propose to appoint a small Committee of officers of experience to consider the general subject of the instruction and education of young officers afloat after they have left the Britannia and have been appointed to sea-going ships. A part of the reference to the Committee will be the consideration of the subsequent examination held to ascertain the proficiency at which these young officers have arrived, and into the expediency or otherwise of any changes being introduced. I may add, however, for my hon. Friend's information, that the question of the examination in seamanship was fully considered by a Committee in 1886; and in the following year various changes were introduced. The establishment of a permanent Board of Examiners was, however, not thought to possess advantages calculated to outweigh the disadvantages.